Restaurants in East London are under pressure to liven up their menus as demand for vegan food reaches an all time high. According to the Vegan Society, the number of vegans in the UK has quadrupled in 12 years and in the last year, 51% of chefs are said to have added vegan dishes to their menus.
Veganuary, also known as going vegan for January, has emerged as this year’s trendiest resolution. The campaign, which was started in 2014 by husband-and-wife duo Jane Land and Matthew Glover, asks people to give meat and animal products for the month of January.
People take part in Veganuary for a host of reasons, whether that be for health reasons, animal welfare concerns or for environmental reasons. However, many people are questioning just how healthy a vegan diet really is. McDonald’s have recently joined the vegan hype, with the release of their vegan Veggie Dippers Meal. The dippers alone contain over 40 ingredients, it’s understood.
KFC have recently been the topic of much controversy, after the release of their highly anticipated “zero chicken vegan burger”. Many animal rights activists have lashed out at the company and those rushing to buy the burger, pointing out that by buying the product, they are in turn supporting a company that is responsible for the slaughter of thousands of animals a day. Journalist Louisa Baldwin has commented on the controversy, stating: “It just seems like a massive contradiction and I don’t get why you would go to Kentucky Fried Chicken, a place dedicated to meat, for a vegan burger.” KFC has yet to respond to the backlash.
To meet the growing demand, businesses in New Cross and Canary Wharf have decided to introduce special vegan menus for January. ‘What the Fattoush?’ can be found in The White Hart in New Cross and have employed an entirely Palestinian-inspired vegan menu as part of their efforts. Bokan restaurant in Canary Wharf are hosting a Veganuary Chef’s Tasting Menu which includes a variety of indulgent plant based options. Chef Guillaume Gillan told EastLondonLines that the response so far has been fantastic.
According to Veganuary, approximately 375,000 people have joined the pledge this year. Joseph Poore, an environmental researcher at the University of Oxford, estimates that as a direct result of these people giving up meat and dairy for the month it will reduce carbon emissions by 45,000 tons. Veganism is a lifestyle that is on the rise and there are now over 600,000 vegans in the UK. Over half the population are either not eating meat or are actively reducing their consumption. In the midst of this so-called ‘plant-based revolution’, there is no doubt that Veganuary is driving new product and menu development in the boroughs of East London.